Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the Ag Trespass bill S.F. 519 into law on Thursday designed to prosecute people who get hired at a livestock farm in order to record animal living conditions.
"We commend the legislature for passing and Gov. Reynolds for signing the Ag Trespass bill today," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said. "This bill establishes vital protections for Iowa livestock producers against special interest groups with malicious intentions, specifically individuals who may cause physical or economic harm to the animals and/or facility owners. Safeguarding our livestock producers is critical to securing our state’s ag-based economy."
On Tuesday, the bill was approved by the Senate 41-8 and the House 65-32. Senator Ken Rozenboom, an Oskaloosa Republican, claimed the legislation would help the agriculture industry in addressing biosecurity related to animal diseases.
“I do not see this as a win-lose bill,” Rozenboom said. “I think this is a win-win bill. If we can protect that vital industry in the state of Iowa, and we can protect the Constitution, we should be voting for this bill.”
This bill approval comes two months after a federal judge struck down an ag-gag law passed in 2012 because the court concluded it violated free-speech rights of undercover investigators. That ruling is on appeal.
Rep. Jarad Klein (R-Keota) said the bill is narrowly focused on false speech that has intent to cause harm. He said the legislation is based on language from an Idaho "ag gag" bill. A federal appeals court in 2018 struck down most of that law as unconstitutional but upheld two provisions.
Klein said he wants to make sure "farmers are protected from people who lie to get a job, whose intent is to cause harm."
Federal Court Declares Iowa’s ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Unconstitutional